There are a lot of conditions that have very similar names and symptoms. This can become confusing to a person who is experiencing symptoms and are unsure of what condition is causing these symptoms. This can also cause a person to delay treatment which can make complications of the conditions worse. This often happens with two similar gastrointestinal conditions. These two are called irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). They have similar symptoms and affect the same areas of the body, but they are two completely different conditions that should not be confused for the other. Being educated on the differences of these two can help you give your doctor information that will help them easily diagnose you. This will help you get treatment sooner so you can be back on track for a healthy life.

People often confuse IBS and IBD because they both have the word bowel in it. They also both affect the digestive system in a person. One of the key differences between the two is right in the definition of IBD. It is ongoing inflammation of all or part of the digestive tract. IBS on the other hand is an intestinal disorder that causes pain in the stomach, along with gas, diarrhea and constipation. IBD causes inflammation, while IBS does not. Another key difference that is easy to spot is right in the name of both. Inflammatory bowel disease is classified as a disease while irritable bowel syndrome is classified as a condition or a syndrome. There are many different reasons why a person can have IBS, but there is not one main cause. IBD on the other hand can come in different forms, including: Crohn’s disease, indeterminate colitis and ulcerative colitis.

One way to tell the difference between IBD and IBS is by the symptoms that are seen. One symptom that the two do have in common is that they both produce urgency with bowel movements. The other symptoms are quite different. For one, IBS does not cause inflammation of the digestive tract. This is one of the main things that IBD does cause. Other symptoms of IBS include: abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation and cramps. While IBD can cause these symptoms, the symptoms that will set it apart for IBS are: extreme fatigue, joint pain, rectal bleeding, extreme fatigue and eye pain. IBS does not cause any of these symptoms.

It is not known exactly what causes IBS. Experts have put together a list of possible causes and triggers and one of the most common ones is stress. This is another way to tell the difference between IBS and IBD.  IBS conditions almost always become worse when a person is experiencing stress compared to a person who is not. IBD on the other hand can flare up in both low-stress and high-stress situations.

Both IBD and IBS are chronic conditions that can happen at the same time. However, the key differences can tell you which one is affecting you the most if you have them at the same time. These differences will also allow you to help your doctor determine whether or not you have IBD or IBS. The goals of treatment and the treatment regimes are very different for both. This is why it is important to know exactly what is affecting you. Educating yourself about both IBD and IBS will help you differentiate between the two and help you get the treatment you need to get back to a normal life without gastrointestinal symptoms.